BIFFes 2024 | Sumanth Bhat on directing ‘Mithya’ and fulfilling a long-cherished dream

Backed by actor-director Rakshit Shetty, ‘Mithya’ is a poignant Kannada movie about a 11-year-old boy’s trauma of losing both his parents

Updated - March 09, 2024 11:30 am IST

Published - March 08, 2024 04:00 pm IST

A still from ‘Mithya’

A still from ‘Mithya’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sumanth Bhat has realised his long-cherished dream. His directorial debut, Mithya, premiered at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival last year, and watching his movie on the big screen became a special experience for Sumanth. “I felt a great sense of accomplishment,” he says.

Mithya is a poignant story of an 11-year-old boy who nurses the wounds of losing both his parents. “Towards the end of the film, people were twitching and turning in their seats, and some of them were even in tears. I was overwhelmed. There was a strange energy in theatre, and that’s what cinema is all about,” he offers. 

The film is produced by actor-director Rakshit Shetty’s production house Paramvah Studios. Rakshit got emotional after reading the screenplay of Mithya, reveals Sumanth. “He didn’t want to change anything in the story,” says Sumanth, on the sidelines of his film’s screening at the 15th Bengaluru International Film Festival. The film won a Special Jury Mention at the festival.

Mithya, through its young protagonist, realistically portrays the characteristics of adolescence. “I am a parent to a seven-year-old and three-year-old. So, being around children helped me write the story better. In fact, if you look at the sibling rivalry shown in the film, it’s drawn from what I observed in my children. The rivalry starts as something very harmless, but later on, one thing leads to another, and it explodes. My 11-year-old nephew was also another reference point,” notes Sumanth.

The film delves into the mind of Mithun, who loves to be called ‘Mithya’ (Athish S Shetty)He faces an identity crisis after he shifts from Mumbai to Udupi following the demise of his parents. Mithya struggles to open up to his aunt and uncle and maintains a shaky relationship with his few friends at school. 

 Sumanth Bhat

Sumanth Bhat | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“The starting point of this film was an incident in my distant relative’s family. The father died of some illness, and 13 days later, the mother committed suicide. During one of the funerals, I saw their three-year-old boy jumping around. He had no idea what had happened. That image of the boy haunted me, and I wanted to understand how kids of that age grieve for the loss of their parents,” Sumanth explains.

As Mithya’s journey becomes relatable, the film reflects on the importance of childhood. “I didn’t want to go wrong in the psychological aspect of my story. I read stories about kids who were abandoned, or lost their parents because of suicide or through accidents. The healing is a long process. Even in my movie, the ending is just the start of Mithya’s healing.”

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Mithya begins with the young boy standing near the door of a fast-moving train; Sumanth describes the scene as a metaphor for the boy’s journey. “The scene also tells us that something is wrong. Something is running in the boy’s mind. He is standing in a scary space. It sets the tone for the movie.”

These ideas are his own, but the craft comes from the films he watched and admired over the years. “I was introduced to world cinema in 2005-06 when I began attending workshops and watching movies at Suchitra Film Society (now Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy). People dropped names like Kurosawa (Akira) and Bergman (Ingmar). I began watching their films. As far as Indian films go, directors such as Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap inspired us. Back then, Kashyap was the voice of indie filmmakers.”

Sumanth is yet another techie who found his passion away from his job. After finishing his engineering at R V College of Engineering, Sumanth was all set for his first job at Cognizant. “There was a four-month gap before we could join work. I had a Handycam with me, so my friend and I decided to make a short film.. that’s how it all began.”

Athish S Shetty in ‘Mithya’

Athish S Shetty in ‘Mithya’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Recollecting how he met Rakshit, Sumanth says, “A common friend introduced me to Rakshit in 2008. He (Rakshit) was also doing short films back then, so we decided to collaborate together. We made a film called I Shot Myself, which Rakshit used for his portfolio. After that, I quit my job and started a design farm with my friend in Udupi. We worked at the firm from 2009 to 2020, before shutting it down to get back to filmmaking.”

Even as he is excitedly waiting for the theatrical release of Mithya, Sumanth is confident of writing his next. “Mithya’s release has given me closure. I was wondering if the film would see the light of the day. Now I can move on to my next with satisfaction,” he wraps up.

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